Objective: The aims of this study were to assess mental health workers' attitudes to addressing tobacco dependence with patients, to identify barriers that may prevent people with mental illness from receiving support, and determine workers' recommendations for tobacco policy and practice change. Method: Questionnaires were sent to government and non-government mental health services in Adelaide, South Australia. The questionnaires asked workers to rate on a Likert rating scale their attitudes to addressing tobacco use with patients and to respond to qualitative questions about managing tobacco use within mental health services. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS version 15.0 and qualitative data was coded by three researchers into categories or themes and then analysed. Results: Questionnaires (324) were received from staff across 45 organizations providing clinical and psychosocial services. More than two thirds of the participants felt it was important for mental health services to be involved in assisting patients to quit smoking; however, only 26% said they raised the issue of tobacco use with patients, often or as part of the assessment. Respondents on average felt approximately one third of their patients could quit or reduce tobacco use if they received nicotine replacement therapy, information and support. Most workers suggested changes to policy and practice within mental health services including smoke free areas and the provision of information and support. Discussion: The rate of tobacco use amongst people with mental illness is still very high with serious social and health consequences. Mental health workers are uniquely placed to assist patients to quit or reduce tobacco use. This study has shown many workers believe that it is important to address tobacco use with their patients as part of routine care and that mental health services should implement significant tobacco policy and practice change.
- Mental illness
- Staff attitudes